On Thursday night, the Washington Wizards picked up a playoff validating win against the Toronto Raptors in triple overtime, 134-129. While John Wall and Marcin Gortat played extremely well, the Wizards also got some great minutes from their reserves.
Wall and Gortat combined to score 62 points for the Wizards, 31 each. Wall also poured in nine assists while Gortat grabbed 12 rebounds. Down the stretch and into overtime, Gortat converted one of three and-one attempts. For Wall, it was an All-Star performance and Gortat easily put forth his best effort of the season.
The Wizards had six players (Wall, Gortat, Trevor Ariza, Bradley Beal, Chris Singleton and Andre Miller) score in double-figures. Two of those players, Singleton and Miller, came off the bench to provide quality minutes. Collectively, the reserves poured in 40 points, 15 rebounds, five steals and one very important block.
Garrett Temple had the most productive minute of basketball in the entire game. In his one minute of action, he scored one point, grabbed a defensive rebound and blocked a shot in the waining seconds of the game. That kind of effort and play from your bench, your entire bench, is a great thing to see as you make your playoff push.
Both Ariza (1-5 from behind the arc) and Beal (4-16 from the floor) had off nights. When your starters aren’t playing well, you need your bench to step up. For head coach Randy Wittman, his bench came through in a big way.
Washington is now 2-0 without Nene Hilario and are currently on a five-game winning streak. Following their last win over the Orlando Magic, I stated that this game would be very telling to their future without him. They stood up to the test that the third-place Raptors posed and passed with flying colors.
Wall is consistently becoming a 20-point-a-night player and Gortat is really finding his own under the basket. While that’s all fine and well, having depth is very important if you want to make a playoff run. As we found out on Thursday night, the Wizards have plenty of that. While there is still a long way to go, it’s nearly impossible not to be excited about their playoff chances.
The playoff race in the Eastern Conference is tightening up as we head to the final full month of the regular season. Luckily for the Wizards, their finding all the right help in all the right places. No matter who Wittman puts on the floor, he’s sure to get quality minutes out of them. Even without Nene, the season outlook is still very bright for the Wizards.